November 19, 2020

ELRC Region 5 Office to Close November 23

Due to rising COVID-19 cases and the stay-at-home advisory in Allegheny County, the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 5 downtown office on Wood Street will be closed to the public beginning Monday, November 23.


On November 18, a stay-at-home and stop social gatherings public health advisory was issued by the Allegheny County Health Department. Due to this advisory and the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County, ELRC Region 5 will close its downtown office to the public.

The downtown and satellite offices will remain closed through December 31, 2020. ELRC Region 5 staff will continue to provide high-quality customer service via phone and video conferencing.

More Information

For more information, read this news post from ELRC Region 5.


September 21, 2020

State Office Candidate Conversation: Child Care

In Allegheny County, 48 percent of eligible children do not have access to publicly funded pre-k programs and 67 percent of Child Care Works subsidy-eligible children under age five remain unserved. Before you vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, find out what your candidates think about early childhood education.


Join the Children Matter Action Fund on September 23 for an online conversation about child care with Allegheny County candidates for state office in House Districts 28, 30, 44, and 45! To register, visit the event webpage.

Unable to attend? Check out each candidate’s views on the Children Matter Action Fund website.


September 2, 2020

August OCDEL Child Care Provider Survey

Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on child care providers. To better understand the successes and challenges child care providers are experiencing, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is collecting information monthly through online surveys on staffing and enrollment. Complete the survey today to share your experience.


This survey is only intended for child care providers and will be utilized to gain an understanding of the status of child care in Pennsylvania. The August survey will be particularly helpful as it will provide insight into the impact of changes in local school district schedule and school-age child care enrollment.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes and must be completed by Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Participation is voluntary. OCDEL will issue the final survey at the end of September to compare and analyze changes.

Take the Survey

To submit your experience, complete the survey.


July 10, 2020

COVID-19: Updated Guidance for Child Care Programs

To maintain the health and safety of their staff and the families they serve, all child care facilities and programs that continue to remain open or that are preparing to reopen in Pennsylvania should follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). With this, programs are highly encouraged to implement additional health and safety procedures as soon as possible.


The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released a revised announcement that outlines recommended steps child care providers can take to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This guidance was developed based on recommendations from the CDC and the DOH and is subject to change. To access the full list of recommendations, read Announcement: C-20-06 Revised: Interim Guidance for Certified Child Care Facilities operating during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic.

Additionally, in Announcement C-20-08: COVID-19 Operations for Licensed Child Care, OCDEL issued clarification regarding health and safety compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic to licensed child care providers and child care certification representatives employed by the Department of Human Service (DHS).

For examples of required and recommended policies and procedures, continue reading below.

Required Procedures

Announcement C-20-08: COVID-19 Operations for Licensed Child Care states that child care providers are required to do the following:

    • Child care staff must wear face coverings indoors; they must also wear face coverings outside where staff are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others unless a medical reason prevents the staff from wearing a face covering. This includes anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
    • Child care programs must have a written health and safety plan that aligns with CDC guidance to minimize the risks of COVID-19. The safety plan must be communicated to staff and enrolled families. At a minimum, the safety plan must address screening procedures; child drop-off and pick-up policies; sick policies; mask policies; and cleaning and sanitation procedures. Providers can see the “Child Care Facility COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan Template” for developing a health and safety plan.
    • Child care programs must adhere to the reporting of suspected or confirmed cases of enrolled children or staff with COVID-19 and complying with follow-up guidance pertaining to remediation, quarantine, and directive for temporary closure to address additional cleaning and sanitation.

Effective July 17, 2020, child care certification representatives will cite child care programs operating out of compliance with the previously described Critical Elements derived from CDC guidance. Child care programs failing to comply with acceptable plans of correction may be subject to further action that impacts the child care programs’ Certificate of Compliance, ability to continue to operate, and eligibility for distributions of supplemental financial supports.

For more information, view the full announcement or FAQ document.

Drop-Off and Arrival Procedures

Child care programs are strongly recommended to:

    • greet children outside as they arrive;
    • stagger arrival and drop-off times and plan to limit direct contact with parents as much as possible;
    • post signage in drop-off and arrival areas to remind staff and children to keep six feet of distance whenever feasible; and
    • set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of the facility so children, families, and staff can clean their hands before they enter.
Screening Procedures

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to prevent it from getting inside the facility. Child care providers should:

    • conduct a daily health screening of any person entering the building, including children, staff, family members, and other visitors to identify symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19 (any person with a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or other signs of illness, should not be admitted into the facility);
    • not allow staff and children to enter the child care facility if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are showing symptoms, or have had potential exposure to a person with COVID-19; and
    • immediately isolate a child or staff member that starts to display symptoms and send them (and any family members) home as soon as possible.
Routine Disinfecting and Sanitation

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their program, child care providers should:

    • post signs in highly visible locations that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of COVID-19 (washing hands, wearing masks, disinfecting, etc.);
    • develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting;
    • routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (toys, games, tables, toilet training potties, chairs, nap pads, etc.); and
    • keep all cleaning materials secure and out of reach of children.
Bedding and Toys

Child care providers should:

    • not use toys and bedding that cannot be washed, cleaned, and sanitized;
    • not share toys with other groups of infants and toddlers unless they have been properly washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other;
    • set toys that need to be cleaned aside and out of children’s reach;
    • keep each child’s bedding separate and stored in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags; and
    • clean bedding that touches a child’s skin weekly or before use by another child.
Face Masks

Child care staff are required to wear cloth face coverings. Children two years old and older are required to wear a face covering unless the child fits one of the exceptions included in Section 3 of the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Order for Universal Face Coverings.

    • If a child is outdoors and is able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least six feet from others who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a mask.
    • If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on a child’s face, they should not do so.
    • If a child two years old or older is unable to remove a face covering without assistance, the child is not required to wear one.
Social Distancing

If possible, child care providers should:

    • limit individual classes to the same group of children and same child care providers each day;
    • consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers or other first responders;
    • limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate during special activities; and
    • maintain space between each child’s naptime mat or crib (ideally six feet or more) and place children head to toe during naptime to reduce potential virus spread.

More Information

For additional information, including information on what to do if a person at your facility tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to someone with COVID-19, view the full guidance from OCDEL.

To stay up-to-date on the most recent COVID-19 information, visit the Department of Health or Centers for Disease Prevention and Control websites.


July 2, 2020

Online Fire Safety Training Now Available for Child Care Centers

Attention child care providers! Does your program need to complete fire safety training? The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is temporarily accepting an online fire safety training that meets required fire safety regulations!


In their recent announcement, OCDEL stated that child care center providers and staff will be able to temporarily complete their annual fire safety training online during the COVID-19 pandemic. As programs reopen, providers should start arranging for all staff to complete annual fire safety training if their current training certification is about to expire or has expired.

While OCDEL maintains that face-to-face training for fire safety is most appropriate, they state that if in-person training is unavailable, they will temporarily accept the following approved fire safety online training offered on the PD Registry:

This training course will be deemed acceptable up until 30 days after the Disaster Proclamation is lifted or such other time as the Department directs.


Reach out to your local fire chief for other fire safety specialist first to see if they are offering any face-to-face fire safety trainings that are conducive to social distancing practices. If face-to-face training is unavailable, have staff register for and complete the online Department of Human Services Fire Safety Training. To register, search for “DHS Fire Safety Training” or the Event ID included above on the Pennsylvania PD Registry.

More Information

For more information, see the Announcement C-20-07, Fire Safety Training for Child Care Centers may be obtained online during the COVID-19 Pandemic.


June 30, 2020

Child Care Providers: Share Your Successes & Challenges

To better understand the success and challenges child care providers are experiencing as they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released a brief survey that providers can complete to share their experiences. Child care providers are encouraged to complete this survey by Wednesday, July 8, 2020.


Since March 2020, COVID-19 has had significant impacts on the child care provider community. The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is interested in understanding the success and challenges child care providers are experiencing as they operate during the pandemic. One strategy they are using to collect information is a brief monthly survey on staffing and enrollment.

While the survey is voluntary, OCDEL encourages every child care operator to participate. OCDEL will issue the same survey at the end of June, July, August, and September to compare and analyze changes.

Take the Survey

To share your successes and challenges, complete the survey today!


May 7, 2020

Preparation for Reopening SAC During COVID-19

Certified School Age Care (SAC) providers are invited to join the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) on May 7 for an online conversation with OCDEL Deputy Secretary, Tracy Campanini, to hear important information about preparing for reopening during COVID-19.


To join the conversation, visit this Zoom link and insert the password: 022124. Individuals can also join via phone by calling 312.626.6799 and inserting the Meeting ID: 957 4116 2918. Pre-registration is not required.

Share this flyer with your network.


March 5, 2020

New Early Childhood Mental Health Survey Available

The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) invites early childhood education professionals, family members, higher education staff, and mental, physical, and oral healthcare professionals to take a brief survey regarding their experiences and communications around early social-emotional development.

Survey results will be used to assist the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMH) Project in developing tools for families and professionals to use in understanding and obtaining supports around early childhood social-emotional health.

Take the Survey

Click here to complete the survey. All surveys must be submitted by April 7, 2020.

More Information on Early Childhood Mental Health

For more information about the IECMH Project, visit the Pennsylvania Key website.

For more early childhood related news, please visit Trying Together’s News Section here.

*Information provided by The Pennsylvania Key


November 8, 2019

Pennsylvania Announces 2019 Market Rate Survey

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) invites all Pennsylvania certified child care providers to participate in the 2019 Market Rate Survey.


Every three years, states conduct a Market Rate Survey (MRS) to update information regarding the prices child care providers charge families. With the last official MRS conducted in 2016, OCDEL invites all certified child care providers in Pennsylvania to submit their published private pay rates. By providing this information, child care providers help OCDEL paint a more accurate picture of child care prices in Pennsylvania and will provide an important database to compare private pay prices with the Child Care Works reimbursement base rates.

How to Participate

The survey is available online from October 7 through December 30, 2019 within the PELICAN Provider Self-Service Portal. Participation will require a username and password to enter. For assistance on enrolling in Provider Self-Service or updating your child care prices if you do not have access to Provider Self-Service, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

Information from all child care providers is important, even if your private pay prices have not changed. If your prices remained the same, please update the “effective date” within the Provider Self-Service Portal. Any changes made between October 7 and December 30, 2019 will be included.

Click here for instructions on how to complete the Survey using Provider Self-Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Market Rate Survey?

In order to comply with federal requirements and continue to draw down federal dollars from the Child Care Development Block Grant for the operation of the Child Care Works (CCW) child care subsidy program, OCDEL is required to complete a periodic Market Rate Survey (MRS). The MRS collects information from all regulated child care providers about their published private pay rates. Providers should participate in the MRS and confirm or report updates to their private pay rates using Provider Self Service (PSS) or, if not enrolled in PSS, by contacting their Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

What does the term “market rate” mean?

The “market rate” is interpreted as the rate which families are asked to pay, and which is published in program literature. The market rate does not reflect any discounts.

Will I be audited for updating my published rates?

Probably not. OCDEL has required verification in the past, and ELRCs have on occasion called a sampling of providers to check, but this is not the plan for this year’s MRS. However, providers should still only share published rates that they can verify if needed, and is the rate charged to most families.

What qualifies as a “discount?”

“Discounts” reflect allowances for families to pay a lower rate. For example, Comcast advertises its rate to clients, but frequently offers specials and discounts for loyal customers and new clients. Child care providers who typically charge $100 but who can offer discounts and specials to lower the price to $80 should still report their rate as $100. The MRS is not designed to capture any discounts that individual providers may choose to offer; it captures ONLY a provider’s published private pay rate.

What do they mean by “published?”

“Publishing” includes your website, your family handbook, any written contracts, or the rate visible on COMPASS.

What is the Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursement rate?

The Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursement rate is the rate that providers are reimbursed by the state for providing care to children who are eligible for CCW. This rate is based on the current market rate as provided through the MRS and is determined in part during the appropriations process. Because many providers also serve children who are not eligible for CCW reimbursement, providers must maintain a separate market rate for private pay families, and report this rate when completing their MRS rather than the CCW reimbursement rate.

Why participate in the Market Rate Survey?

It is important that each provider updates their private pay rates so that OCDEL has the necessary data to consider future Child Care Works base rate increases.

Learn More

To learn more, view the full announcement or contact your local ELRC.

*Information provided by OCDEL


July 25, 2019

Changes Made to Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program

For Fiscal Year 2019-20, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning’s Rising STARS Tuition Assistance (RSTA) program has undergone several important changes. Administered by The Pennsylvania Key, RSTA helps cover a portion of tuition costs for early childhood professionals.

Fiscal Year 2019-20 Changes

The following changes have been implemented for FY 2019-20:

    • “Grandfathered” applicants seeking an AA, BA, or PreK-4 Teacher Certification will continue to receive 95% of tuition costs with a maximum benefit of $6,000 per individual. These applicants will need to transition to T.E.A.C.H. or another financial aid resource by Fiscal Year 2020-2021.
    • For new applicants for approved CDA or Credential Coursework, individuals will receive 95% of tuition costs and fees net of other funding sources for approved credential or CDA coursework up to eighteen (18) credits.
    • Additionally, new applicants for approved CDA or Credential Coursework can submit a request form (including receipt) for reimbursement for books after purchase.

More Information

To learn more about the RSTA program, visit the Pennsylvania Key website.

For questions, call 1.800.284.6031 or email

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning